As law firms embrace the digital age and invest in new technologies and platforms for communicating with clients and prospects, digital content marketing has become essential to any successful legal marketing department’s strategy. Insightful articles can position your lawyers as thought leaders and build credibility among clients and potential clients by providing valuable information about how legal issues can affect their businesses. Publishing on your firm’s website, blog or social media, and disseminating content via an e-mail campaigns are great ways to reach those already within the firm’s network; but how can we effectively reach everyone else?
That is where search engine optimization (SEO) comes in. Complex and ever-changing algorithms employed by search engines make it possible for their users to easily and quickly find the best and most relevant content, based on keyword search terms. In turn, the higher a page ranks in search results, the more organic visitors it will receive. SEO allows marketers to impact their visibility in search engines, resulting in increased organic results (as opposed to paid results).
The good news is that SEO and content marketing complement each other nicely. The simple SEO strategies described below can help ensure that your content is easy for potential readers to find and access.
- Offer quality content. The most important factor that will influence search engine rankings is the quality of your content. Readers know good content when they see it, and sites with compelling and useful content will likely experience an increase in their recognition without much additional effort on the part of the marketer. Lawyers are great at producing quality content that is relevant and useful to readers, but they sometimes struggle with being concise. As part of the editorial process, consider revising legalese in lieu of easily understood language.
- Provide timely and original content. Timely content that has not yet been reported by other outlets keeps readers interested and coming back for more. Being among the first to report on a breaking development positions you as a go-to resource for readers. Avoid repurposing or duplicating content that readers have already seen, or rehashing old news that will be of little new value.
- Write better titles and title tags. Properly written titles and title tags can go a long way to improve your SEO ranking. Titles and title tags inform both readers and search engines of the subject of a particular page, and should be concise, substantive and descriptive—using key words and phrases—whenever possible. Avoid using “clickbait” titles that exploit readers’ curiosity.
- Use descriptive anchor text. Anchor text is the clickable text in a hyperlink and, like titles and title tags, should be relevant and descriptive of the page to which you are linking. When selecting text to use as an anchor, choose key words and phrases that provide a basic description of what the linked content is about. Keep your anchor text concise and avoid linking full sentences or long phrases. Whenever possible, refrain from using generic text like “click here” and “read more,” and also avoid using the page’s URL as the anchor.
- Be thoughtful about your keywords. Consider what words potential readers might use to search for the content that you are writing about. Not all readers are experts on legal issues, so be sure to include terms that are accessible to lay-people who may be new to the topic. Vary your use of keywords to accommodate for your readers’ range of knowledge on the subject matter.
- Go mobile. Google recently updated its algorithm so that mobile-friendly websites are given preference in mobile search results. The big takeaway is that if your site is not mobile-device compatible, you should work to change that. Many web and blogging platforms now offer responsive design, which allows websites to automatically adapt their layouts proportionally to whatever device the reader is using. Given the recent Google update, moving to responsive design should positively impact SEO.
By Emily Flowers, Manager of Content Marketing and Communications for McDermott Will & Emery, for the March/April 2015 issue of the Capital Ideas Newsletter.